Digital leadership: what it is and what it is not

Redazione Le Fonti

How managers create a good basis for hybrid working

The buzzword “digital leadership” is currently on everyone’s lips. But what exactly does that mean? To dispel a myth right away: digital leadership does not mean exclusively managing employees via digital platforms. Nor does it involve managers simply introducing digital tools at companies and then ensuring that work is completely digitalised.

Instead, digital leadership involves managers skillfully developing a modern management and organisational culture using any corporate digital tools available – e.g., virtual communities, digital workplace tools. And it is precisely this that should then ensure the sensible use of such tools throughout the company. Accordingly, managers must initially ask themselves: “What do we use digital tools for – and what don’t we use them for?”

Digital leadership means developing a modern management and organisational culture

In practice, this involves collaborating with the organisation to understand where digital tools can generate real added value for both customers and employees. For it is deciding this and implementing it throughout the organisation that digital leadership is all about. Another important task of digital leaders involves organising employee management in a hybrid set-up. To that end, managers must answer questions such as: “How do I make our corporate culture tangible and perceptible?”, “How do I create meaningful formats for knowledge transfer?” or “How do we handle the storage and sharing of information on digital platforms in our company?”

Lutz Hirsch (CEO of HIRSCHTEC) with employees at the HIRSCHTEC office in Hamburg, Germany

Copyright: HIRSCHTEC, Photographer: Mike Schäfer

Managers must be willing to use digital platforms and be open to AI

One thing is clear: it will not do for managers to simply understand the functions of their corporate digital platforms, but they must be able and willing to use them. Managers need to know exactly where the hurdles and pitfalls lie when using digital platforms. They must be aware of key considerations around data protection and security. And they must be open to artificial intelligence and know where it can be a valuable digital assistant for their management tasks – and where AI reaches its limits.

HIRSCHTEC supports companies in designing their hybrid working environment

And because implementing this poses some serious practical challenges, HIRSCHTEC supports companies as a trustworthy partner at their side. The digital agency and hybrid-work consultancy – whose founder and CEO Lutz Hirsch was named “CEO of the Year Innovation of Leadership Digital Workplace” by Le Fonti in December 2023 – helps companies and managers in shaping their hybrid working environment. To date, the agency has delivered over 600 workplace projects for over six million people worldwide. It pursues a holistic and comprehensive approach when assessing the closely interlinked fields of action of “leadership,” “automation,” “communication,” “collaboration” and “office spaces.”

Lutz Hirsch awarded as “CEO of the Year Innovation of Leadership Digital Workplace” at Le Fonti International Awards 2023

Copyright: Le Fonti

The agency’s ample experience shows that organisations seeking to achieve long-term success from the potential offered by digital technologies must holistically consider – and fit together – the digital fitness of management and employees, organisational culture and the digital workplace.

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